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Posted by on Nov 6, 2020 in TellMeWhy |

How Did Mark Twain Get His Pen Name?

How Did Mark Twain Get His Pen Name?

How Did Mark Twain Get His Pen Name? Mark Twain is the pen name of Samuel Clemens. Although the exact origins of the name are unknown, it is worth noting that Clemens operated riverboats, and mark twain is a nautical term for water found to be two fathoms (12 feet [3.7 metres]) deep: mark (measure) twain (two).

Mark Twain was an American humorist, novelist, and travel writer. Today he is best remembered as the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Twain is widely considered one of the greatest American writers of all time.

For most people, the name “Mark Twain” is virtually synonymous with the life along the Mississippi River immortalized in the author’s writing. Clemens first signed his writing with the name in February 1863, as a newspaper reporter in Nevada. “Mark Twain” (meaning “Mark number two”) was a Mississippi River term: the second mark on the line that measured depth signified two fathoms, or twelve feet—safe depth for the steamboat.

In 1857, at the age of twenty-one, he became a “cub” steamboat pilot. The Civil War ended that career four years later by halting all river traffic. Although Clemens never again lived in the Mississippi valley, he returned to the river in his writing throughout his life. And he visited a number of times, most notably in 1882 as he prepared to write Life on the Mississippi, his fullest and most autobiographical account of the region and its inhabitants, and again in 1902 when he made his final visit to the scenes of his childhood.

the adventures of tom sawyer
Clip from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Why is Mark Twain still relevant today? Twain has both moulded and inspired the American literary canon which millions still enjoy today. Huck Finn has taught young Americans right from wrong and the importance of country and friendship, all through a narrative that constantly interrogates the ideals of the nineteenth century American South.

What did Mark Twain say about America? Twain went further. Living in Europe in the 1890s, he wrote in his notebook: “Are you an American? No, I am not an American. I am the American.” He was arrogant, but he wasn’t wrong.

Content for this question contributed by Dion Berte, resident of Agawam, Hampden County, Massachusetts, USA